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For those of you who want to know just who lives on this amazing island, a nice re-blog:

 

Source: Taiwan’s Diverse Communities

This blog will make you wish you were at the table, chopsticks ready.

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Today I’ll share one of my family’s favourite traditional restaurants in Singapore. It’s a place we go for authentic Hokkien comfort food and Beng Thin Hoon Kee is definitely a household name that has been around for a long time. The restaurant has been very successful and favourite with many families since it  was founded in 1949 by Lim Yew Hoon who sadly passed at 91 quite recently. It moved to its current premises at the OCBC Centre rooftop carpark in 1979.

Overall: ★★★★☆
Price: $$ – $$$

They serve up a variety of sets for different numbers of people, but on average, you can expect to pay about $35-45 each per pax if you go for the full works including soup, fresh fish and seafood like prawns and crab claws.

One of my favourite dishes here is definitely the Cold Duck Salad.

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This is a wonderfully appetising start to the meal with…

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My neighbors invited me and my Dad over for a hotpot party the other day! Ingredients:

A cauldron; a small tabletop heater/gas cooker; chopped veggies (taro, asparagus, chiles, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach, baby corn, potatoes, turnips); yummy soybean treats (various tofu/the firm kind, also Buddhists are ingenious at creating meat substitutes like faux meatballs, faux shrimp, and faux bacon!); and real meat in chunks (pork loin, abalone, fish, anything that can withstand boiling. Duckblood cubes are also really popular.)

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Ready to rock and roll.

Next, put water in the pot and fire it up to boiling. You can add a little salt and oil if desired while it warms up. Everyone grabs chopsticks and starts tossing their favorite bits into the boiling water.

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Dad couldn’t wait! Claimed he was just doing quality control.

When you judge something is ready, fish it out and snack (carefully, it’ll be HOT). After a few rounds, the broth begins to build…then you ladle it into your bowl on top of the choice bits. This is a really fun party food, participatory and delicious.

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We had two Buddhists in our group, so a vegetarian hotpot was also featured. Unexpectedly savory!!

A fascinating blog from Taiwan Folklore–these dwarf people provoke comparisons with the tiny Homo floresiensis from Indonesia…

Island Folklore

| 中文版 |

Legends and myths about “the little folk” are common throughout the world. From pygmies and pixies to dwarves and fairies, these fantastic beings are found in the traditional tales of cultures as far-flung as those of Greece, Germany, India and Indonesia.

Taiwan also has its own native tales about a mysterious nation of dwarves. The following is just one of these and it has given rise to a well-known festival, which is still celebrated on the island.

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A long time ago, in the northwestern hills of the island of Taiwan, on the border region between the present-day counties of Hsinchu and Miaoli, lived the ancient Austronesian ancestors of the Saisiyat people.

In the beginning, these early Saisiyat tribesmen were as newborns in the world. Helpless and uninstructed, they looked to their neighbours—a nation of dark-skinned dwarves known as the Ta’ai—for guidance.

The Ta’ai were a people small…

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My room-mate Yin Ying-Mei is a PhD candidate in tourism studies, and is studying how food tourism affects emotional states and mental health. So it’s quite fitting that last night she treated me and a friend to her delicious handmade noodles, Shandong-style.

Ying-Mei is self-deprecating about her cooking overall, but proud of her skill with noodles.  First, she made a simple dough with wheat flour, cold water, and an egg, then patted it into a ball.

Then she laid some cellophane on the counter, sprinkled more flour, and began to roll out the dough.

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Watching Ying-Mei roll out the dough is hypnotic! 

When it was paper thin, Ying-Mei dusted the dough with more flour and folded it over, then used a cleaver to slice delicately thin noodles:

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She made it look so easy…

The noodles were carefully placed in boiling salted water and cooked till tender. Ying-Mei topped them with ground pork in a rich black bean, garlic, and red chili sauce. Delicious! A nice way to prepare for the new year.  I wish you all a happy, prosperous, and fun 2017 from Taipei!

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Ying-Mei and her friend Ms. Ting, ready to dig into a fantastic Shandong style meal.

 

 

 

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I’m on my way! After 11 hours in the air we land in Tokyo on a sparkling winter afternoon. It’s a bit lonely here in the airport–part of me is still somewhat unbelieving that I’m going to be gone for so long, I already miss the people I love (and routinely take for granted)!

Here in the airport is a wonderful hands-on station where you can make your very own Ukiyo-e prints! So, I jump in and with the assistance of lovely kimono-clad teachers make a print called Beauty Looking Back by Moronobu Hishikawa.  I may not be a beauty but the title captures how I feel this evening.

On Monday I will embark on my research voyage to Taiwan! Six months to learn more about ancient agriculture and crops, their role in transforming Paleolithic hunting and gathering and in dealing with modern challenges of climate change. A modest goal.

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This picture of my Dad climbing a seemingly endless stairway in Taroko National Park captures my feelings…

Boise State University, my ‘home’, has been super helpful about getting the word out about my research interests and the upcoming project in Taiwan. Here are some good links to click on to learn more:

https://news.boisestate.edu/update/2016/12/13/pei-lin-yu-9/

https://focus.boisestate.edu/article/farming-foraging-and-human-resiliency/

And here is my home page in the Anthropology Department, https://anthropology.boisestate.edu/pei-lin-yu/

Thanks for reading, please weigh in with your comments, and I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

In my closet hangs a lightweight gossamer cotton kimono, properly termed a yukata. My auntie Gwan sewed it for me 30 years ago, when I was in high school. This lovely garment is a testament to the Japanese colonial period from 1895-1945, when my father’s family–all Chinese, of course–were Japanese citizens, wore kimono, spoke Japanese, ate Japanese cuisine, went to Japanese schools, and even went by Japanese nicknames. My uncles still go by Taka, Susumu, Toshi, my father’s nickname is Naho.

China ceded Taiwan to Japan in the 1890s after losing a naval war. And the legacy lives on.

For the past week I’ve been in Kyoto, with complex emotions roiling through me regarding Japanese history and its impacts on China, Taiwan, and my own family. But as I walked the streets, especially in twilight, the magic of Kyoto was everywhere. Here is a cup of cold sake and sashimi that I enjoyed in a tiny restaurant near the Imperial Palace.

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Freshest sashimi I’ve ever had. Sweet and delicate.

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Nothing beats an overflowing cup of cold sake on a steamy August evening.

 

The patron goddess of Taiwan is Mazu, 媽祖, who watches over all those who are imperiled by the sea but especially fisherfolk. The Taiwanese have a vivid and loving relationship with the food of the sea, as shown by these lovely shots at the fish market just west of Taichung.

One of my earliest memories is of Dad and Mom feeding me octopus tentacles with chopsticks. We lived with my infant sister in Columbus, where Dad had a teaching job at Ohio State University. To my child’s mind and palate, octopus tentacles and stinky tofu (of which more later) were in the same league as hot dogs; salty, savory, satisfying.

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Fried crabs in the shell, left; tentacles of large squid. They may be the ferocious Humboldt squid, caught by Taiwanese fishermen off the Peruvian coast far away.

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Much tinier squid on a plate in a humble eatery near the fish market. They are served plain, a rarity in Taiwanese cuisine.

We and our primate ancestors adore eggs. In our earlier tree-dwelling phase, eggs snatched from nests were a high-protein food that could be enjoyed by infants and adults alike. Eggs were part of paleodiets that pre-date our species, even our genus. They are important to hunter-gatherers, gardeners, farmers, and city folk. No diet, paleolithic, neolithic, or industrial, is complete without eggs (my apologies to those of you who are allergic).

The Taiwanese love a good thousand-year egg on their breakfast plate, a tradition that floated across the Taiwan Strait more than 400 years ago on bamboo junks. The below example comes from the kitchens of Academia Sinica (picture the Smithsonian Institution or M.I.T., smaller with nice dorms and a restaurant). The eggs (duck, chicken, or quail) are prepared by wrapping in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls and then leaving for weeks or even months. In the old days eggs were buried and there are tales of ancient eggs being exhumed–then consumed.

Chinese people probably didn’t invent thousand-year eggs until the advent of domestication (so you could grab a few eggs on short notice from chickens, who were converted from jungle fowl at least 6,000 years ago) and settled living (so you could bury your eggs and be reasonably sure to remember where you left them).

When removed from their coating, the egg shells are a delicate grey-brown sometimes with branchlike markings. The above left image is of a painstakingly wrapped thousand year egg; on the right, of my Taiwanese breakfast egg. The yolk turns granular, with a deep thunderhead-grey color and a faint flavor of salt, smoke, and sulfur. The white becomes an exquisite translucent deep brown or caramel color, and rubbery-smooth. I’m not making this sound very tasty; nonetheless,  you’ll have to try one and see for yourself.